Are you having trouble sleeping, have skin problems, prone to getting regular colds and flus and feeling pretty down? It’s possible you’re not getting enough vitamin B6 (or B complex vitamins in general!)
Today we look at the next in line of the B vitamin complex. As with the other B vitamins, it cannot be stored in the body so daily intake through your food is essential! This special little vitamin supports more vital bodily functions than any other vitamin due to it’s major role as a coenzyme in macronutrient breakdown within the body.
Why do I need vitamin B6?
B6’s main function is the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It is also responsible for the manufacture of hormones, red blood cells, neurotransmitters, enzymes and prostaglandins. Vitamin B6 is required for the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that controls our moods, appetite, sleep patterns, and sensitivity to pain.
Among its many benefits, vitamin B6 is recognised for helping to maintain healthy immune system functions, for protecting the heart from cholesterol deposits, and for preventing kidney stone formation. B6 is also effective in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, premenstrual syndrome, night leg cramps, allergies, asthma and arthritis.
Where can I find it?
This super vitamin can be found in a number of food sources so should be pretty easy to come by, especially if you follow the Ignite Way of Eating. Common sources include meats, vegetables, nuts and bananas. Cooking, storage and processing can cause some losses of the vitamin but it is much more stable in vegetables than in animal products, so focus on your daily vegetable intake for your B6 needs.
How much should I have?
The recommended intake of B6 each day is 1 – 2 mg/day. Your requirement increases as you get older… kids only need 0.5 – 1 mg/day compared to a 50 year old male who needs at least 1.7 mg/day. The foods that contain higher amounts of B6 include carrots, chicken, eggs, fish, avocados, bananas.
What happens if I don’t get enough?
Common symptoms include depression, vomiting, anemia, kidney stones, dermatitis, lethargy and increased susceptibility to diseases due to a weakened immune system. Kids suffering from vitamin B6 deficiency can be anxious and irritable, and in extreme cases may develop convulsions. A deficiency of vitamin B6 can quickly lead to insomnia and problems in the functioning of the central nervous system.
What happens if I have too much?
B6 is one of the few vitamins that can be toxic to the body. Doses up to 500 mg per day are uncommon but safe, but doses above 2 grams per day can lead to irreversible brain damage unless under the treatment of your doctor. It is hard to reach these high levels of B6 through food alone, if you are taking supplements ensure the B6 content is not over 500 mg (it should be about 10 – 75 mg/day).
Supplemental B6 is used as a treatment for nausea, morning sickness and depression. Pregnant women have an increased need for supplemental vitamin B6, as do patients suffering from heart disease or those undergoing radiation treatment. People on high protein diets also require extra vitamin B6 because of the increased need to metabolise the higher levels of protein. Other groups who need to consider higher intakes of this vitamin include those taking antidepressants, amphetamines, oral contraceptives, and estrogen as these medications affect B6 levels.
So, all you need to remember is…
Eat some eggs, carrots, fish, chicken, banana or avocados everyday to ensure you are meeting your B6 requirements and you will stay happy, healthy and sleeping sweetly! And be aware if you take supplements not to exceed 500 mg/day…